Joensuu 1685, The Stutters – Overtoom 301, Amsterdam 02/10/09
Overtoom 301 is a very nice place as squat venues go, replete with tastefully dilapidated bar-cum-café (replete with the squatter crowd and hipsters from top magazine Subbacultcha!, who were hosting the event), and a sizeable main hall. Everything was nice and groovy. In fact a little too groovy, as The Stutters (male, three-piece, guitars), didn’t get round to playing until the venue had a crowd that – apparently - suited the event: something which took an hour to materialise, maybe more. To be honest their gig was a bit of a damp squib, despite the restless tempo of their songs. This itchy take on post-punk/power pop didn’t do much for us at all, as everything was a bit one-paced and perfunctory, and lacked any feeling of light and shade. Oh well, maybe they just had an off night, who knows?
More waiting, and a bit of hipster watching (this year, it seems, it is verboten not to dance to Devo tracks). Time elapsed watching the big fella out of zZz play some top tunes in the deejay booth... Finally we got the feeling a gig was going to happen. The three members of Joensuu 1685 who, at times, must have been wondering when they were going to play, turned their stage set-up around in remarkably quick time and began to crank out a beautiful You Shine Brighter Than Light, which is possibly the best spaced out paean to life and love since Spaceman 3 recorded Recurring.
Despite seeming a bunch of bashful, silent types, Joensuu have a mighty powerful vibe, one which is a tad shamanic (yes I’m going to play the Finno-Ugric shaman card sorry) and one that can hold an audience over extended work outs; like the magnificent take on the Boss’s I’m On Fire, which started off as a Neu!-style daze-out and mutated into something far more interesting and emotional than Mr Springsteen could have ever imagined. Despite the proliferation of pedals and effects, they are also a remarkably simple proposition, perhaps that’s the key to their brilliance. For make no mistake, Joensuu write magnificent pop songs, as Baby, Baby, Baby (Buddy Holly + distortion pedal) testifies.
As for gig highlights, there were many: apart from the tracks I’ve mentioned I suppose we can’t end this review without mentioning the extended, stripped-back Crystal Light; a relentless attempt to slip into another world courtesy of some thumping, Dinger-esque drumming and singer Mikko’s staring into a mini strobe light, which looked, it had to be said, a tad worrying.
Great band, great gig. In the name of all that is Holy, go and see them if you can. You have been duly notified.
Words: Richard Foster